Monday, December 18, 2017

Benkei, the famous Japanese Buddhist warrior of the 12th century in Japanese art

By Lee Jay Walker
TOKYO---Saito no Musashibo Benkei (1155-1189) is a famous and highly esteemed Japanese warrior of the twelfth century. Not only is Benkei revered for his loyalty, prowess, and knowledge but also he is deeply admired for his Buddhist faith. Of course, in the realm of Japanese art then Benkei appealed greatly during the Edo Period through the prism of ukiyo-e. After all, the Tokugawa elites admired loyalty and reverence based on power concentration. At the same time, the Buddhist faith was utilized to the maximum in order to quell the ambitions of distant Christian powers, emanating from Europe, during the early part of the Edo Period. [More]

Oh, Jerusalem! Berlin exhibition encapsulates troubled past, sobering present

By Derek Scally in Berlin
An ancient book with Jewish text, part of the “Welcome to Jerusalem” exhibition in Berlin. The diverse challenges Jerusalem faces are presented in historical displays, artistic reactions and medial staging. Photograph: Felipe Trueba/EPA
When Germans talk of a Reise nach Jerusalem, they might be discussing a trip to the city recognised last week by US president Donald Trump as the capital of Israel. Or they might be referring to the game we know as musical chairs: too many people march around too few chairs and, when the music stops, the person who fails to grab a chair is excluded. Given that the game usually ends in tears, its German fits perfectly with Jerusalem’s 5,000-year history of too many groups fighting over contested spaces to the exclusion of one or more – often with catastrophic results. From now until April, anyone taking a trip to Berlin can take a quick detour to Jerusalem, in a striking new exhibition at the German capital’s Jewish Museum.[More]

Cleveland Museum of Art embarks on radical reconstruction of Cambodian Krishna statue

By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Museum of Art's Krishna Govardhan sculpture as it was installed in the museum's new Asian Wing in 2013. The museum removed the work recently to embark on a yearlong project to take it apart and put it back together. When finished, it will be displayed freestanding in a gallery as opposed to against a wall, as is shown here.
CLEVELAND, Ohio---The Cleveland Museum of Art's seventh-century Cambodian statue of the Hindu god Krishna, a broken masterpiece painstakingly reassembled in 1978, is ready for a yearlong radical makeover in the museum's conservation lab. The goal of the project, funded by a $70,000 Bank of America Art Conservation Project grant, is to dismantle and reconstruct the sculpture's 11 pieces to re-create its correct pose for the first time since the fragments were unearthed in stages starting more than a century ago. The pose matters because it will help reveal the work's true religious meaning at its time of origin -- a pivotal moment in the development of Hinduism. [More]

Developing a collector's passion for religious photography

By Ernest Disney-Britton
Ernest Disney-Britton stands at home in Indianapolis next to new photographer Kelvin Buzon's diptych titled "Ama Namin” (“Our Father" in Tagalog) and “Ina ng Gracia” (“Mother of Grace"), AP prints; top left and middle left; Doug Birkenheuer's "Evil Innocence," bottom left; and William Rasdell’s “Jews in the African Diaspora" collection, bottom right.
There was a photography studio inside the arts center where I had my first arts management job after college graduation in 1984. I recall being struck by how the photographers saw themselves as storytellers, and it was during those years that I bought my first religious-themed photographs. When I left the Arts Consortium of Cincinnati, I also took a long hiatus from photography. However, since Greg and I married ten-years ago, we have begun following the work of a number of contemporary photographers who tell religious stories. Most recently, we met Filipino-American photographer Kelvin Burzon. In two self-portraits that we acquired this month, Burzon portrays both Jesus Christ (top) and the Virgin Mary (bottom). In short, it's a good time to collect religious art photography.